VIERA, Fla. — As the Nationals’ injured players begin to inch closer to activity and possible returns this week, it’s important to keep in mind that tomorrow is the date which players can be backdated to if they need to go on the disabled list to start the regular season. However, in order for the Nationals to backdate a player to that date they cannot participate in a major league spring training game after then.
So, even if Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse and Drew Storen work their way back to being healthy enough to be in games in the next 10 days, unless the Nationals are certain they will be ready to open the season on the active roster, they will not play them in major league games as a failsafe.
They can still play in minor league games and get their work in that way but if any player plays in a major league spring game from March 27 until the end of the spring, they won’t be able to use the maximum amount of backdating for the disabled list, thereby elongating the amount of games they’ll miss during the season due to procedure.
Right now, the toughest thing for the Nationals with regard to planning is “the uncertainty of knowing exactly the date,” that they’ll be ready to return, said Nationals manager Davey Johnson.
All of that said, and without further ado, here are the injury updates from Nationals camp this Sunday morning…
– Nationals left fielder Michael Morse is scheduled to begin throwing on Wednesday after a period of inactivity that, if he remains on schedule, will have lasted just over two weeks. That will be the first test for Morse and his strained right lat muscle and the first time the Nationals will get any indication of whether or not the left fielder will be ready by Opening Day on April 5.
“I have a feeling he could be close,” Johnson said. “Two or three days ago, I said definitely he was going to start the season on the DL and, at this point, I’m not so sure.”
Morse continues to report that he’s feeling well and he’s not dealing with any discomfort in the area anymore but how he feels after he starts activities will be more indicative of his timetable.
– First baseman Adam LaRoche was cleared to start running the bases on Monday, a good sign for him and just adds to the feeling that LaRoche may be the closest of the Nationals’ injured players to returning to active duty. LaRoche has maintained throughout the issue with his left foot (bone bruise) that if it were the regular season he would be taping it up tight and getting on the field. He’s said the same to Johnson.
– Not much has changed with closer Drew Storen, though he did say he’s feeling completely recovered from his bout with strep throat last week, and the plan is for him to continue resting until Tuesday or Wednesday this week when he’ll start what Johnson described as a “conservative” throwing program.
In the meantime, the Nationals will attempt to get Brad Lidge and Henry Rodrigues into the closing situations when they arise but, as Johnson eloquently pointed out Sunday morning “we haven’t had a friggin’ lead, so, we don’t really need a closer right now.”
– Right-hander Chien-Ming Wang is “ahead of schedule,” Johnson said. Wang was doing some very light jogging around the warning track at Space Coast Stadium on Sunday morning and Johnson said the bleeding and bruising in his hamstring area that had appeared extremely prevalent last week seems to have dissipated some.
Still, Wang’s timetable is unknown and will be an extremely cautious one given the touchy nature of hamstring injuries and the desire not to push him only to watch him suffer a setback. Opening Day appears unlikely.
– Outfielder Rick Ankiel is still getting treatment on his left quad but he’s well enough to play. Ankiel appeared to be in the Nationals’ original lineup for Sunday and was swapped out for Roger Bernadina, but Johnson said he never planned on playing Ankiel Sunday after a long day Saturday in Sarasota and a long bus ride home.